PETER MUGYENYI .Director and Co-Founder, Joint Clinical Research Center (JCRC), Kampala; physician, author, leading authority on treatment of HIV/AIDS in Africa
After narrowly escaping capture by Idi Amin’s secret police and going into exile, Ugandan physician Peter Mugyenyi became a leading pediatrician in the UK, but later chose to return home to terrible conditions and a meagre salary, and to retrain in HIV epidemiology, in order to help his country battle its burgeoning AIDS epidemic.
One of the most prominent figures in the global medical community who argued in favor of the idea that Africans could, and would, successfully follow antiretroviral treatment regimens (something which very few people at the time believed would happen, but which history has proven totally correct), Dr. Mugyenyi is the founder and director of the Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC), Africa’s largest AIDS treatment and research center, and has come to be recognized as one of the leading HIV/AIDS researchers in the world.
In 2002, he took it upon himself to order a shipment of low-cost generic ARVs from India, in direct defiance of Uganda’s patent laws, challenging the authorities to arrest him and refusing to leave the airport until the drugs were allowed into the country and guarantees were given that future shipments would also be cleared. This action led virtually overnight to a tenfold increase in the number of people on ARVs in Uganda, and effectively ended the blockade of low-cost generic AIDS drugs into Africa (today almost all Africans on ARVs take generics, the great majority of which still come from India).
Dr. Mugyenyi also played a major consultative role in the formulation of the PEPFAR (‘President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief’) program, which was announced at the 2003 State of the Union address by President George W. Bush. He was seated beside Laura Bush when the announcement was made, and President Bush made reference to him in the speech. PEPFAR has since put millions of Africans on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment, and is widely viewed as by far the single most positive legacy of George W. Bush’s two terms in the White House.
Peter Mugyenyi’s landmark 2008 book Genocide by Denial: How Profiteering from HIV/AIDS Killed Millions details how Western governments and drug companies callously oversaw the deaths of millions of Africans who would never have been able to afford their branded drugs. A follow-up to this book, A Cure Too Far: The Struggle to End HIV/AIDS, was published in early 2013.
Dr. Mugyenyi was present at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on January 20, 2013, for the North American premiere of Fire in the Blood.
PETER ROST . Former Vice-President of Pfizer Inc., Pharmacia and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals; physician and author
Peter Rost, MD (b. 1959), a medical doctor and native of Sweden, worked in upper management for three of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer, Wyeth and Pharmacia, over the course of a nearly three-decade career in the industry. Increasingly dismayed by the unethical commercial practices he witnessed, he eventually decided to speak out against them. In a sensational 2004 Op-Ed in the New York Times, Dr. Rost, then Vice-President of Marketing at Pfizer, wrote: “Americans are dying without the appropriate drugs because my industry and Congress are more concerned about protecting astronomical profits for conglomerates than they are about protecting the health of Americans.”
In 2005, Dr. Rost testified before the US Senate’s Health Committee about Pfizer’s marketing practices. Representative Rahm Emmanuel, later President Obama’s first Chief of Staff, said, “I would like to nominate Dr. Rost for the Guts of the Year award… I want to thank Dr. Rost for blowing the whistle on the pharmaceutical industry, breaking down myths perpetuated by the industry that help keep prices and profits high at the expense of American families.” Pfizer relieved Peter Rost of his duties in December 2005.
Dr. Rost’s 2006 book The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman describes the illegal and at times criminal business practices he witnessed while working as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry. He has also authored a medical textbook as well as a novel.
JOSEPH STIGLITZ . Economist, Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Economics
Joseph Stiglitz (b. 1943) is often referred to as “the most famous economist in the world.” He won the 2001 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences and served as Chairman of the US Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton (1995-1997), Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank (1997-2000, until he was ousted for publicly disagreeing with bank policy) and has been a professor of economics at Stanford, Yale, Princeton and Oxford universities. He currently teaches at Columbia University in New York and is President of the International Economic Association.
In 2011, TIME magazine named Joseph Stiglitz one of the 100 most influential people in the world and Foreign Policy magazine designated him one of its “top global thinkers”. He is the recipient of more than forty honorary doctorates.
Stiglitz has special interests in inequality, the patent system, trade and globalization. He emerged as a leading intellectual supporter of the Occupy Movement in late 2011, describing it as part of a “worldwide movement against inequality”.
Professor Stiglitz’s numerous publications include Globalization and its Discontents (2002), Fair Trade for All (2006) and, most recently, The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future (2012).